Scheme for quieter equipment beefed up

Since the Quieter Construction Fund started, 41 applications have been approved, with grants totalling more than $1.3 million disbursed. It has also helped to reduce the number of violations of noise limits from 483 in 2013 to 330 last year.
Since the Quieter Construction Fund started, 41 applications have been approved, with grants totalling more than $1.3 million disbursed. It has also helped to reduce the number of violations of noise limits from 483 in 2013 to 330 last year.ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO

Gripes about noise fall; NEA to raise cap for Quieter Construction Fund, extend it to 2018

The number of complaints about noise dropped from 16,600 in 2013 to 14,900 last year, new figures from the National Environment Agency (NEA) reveal.

One of the reasons for the fall, said the NEA, is the Quieter Construction Fund (QCF), which will be extended until 2018 and have its funding cap increased.

The QCF was introduced two years ago by the NEA to encourage firms to adopt innovative technology to reduce construction noise. Since its inception, 41 applications have been approved, with grants totalling more than $1.3 million disbursed. It has also helped to reduce the number of violations of noise limits from 483 in 2013 to 330 last year.

The higher cap will benefit firms buying equipment such as the silent piler, which costs about $550,000 more than conventional ones.

"If you are on a site where a contractor has applied for QCF and has already put in place solutions, you will experience a drastic drop and feel the noise level has improved," said NEA director of pollution control Fong Peng Keong.

From next month, the funding cap for buying quieter equipment will be raised from $50,000 to $150,000 per item. The average grant given to date is $32,000.

NEA chief executive Ronnie Tay said: "We are aware the costs of quieter construction technology and noise-mitigating measures have remained high, and the industry welcomes more funding assistance."

MA Builders has benefited from the QCF. The firm had more than 20 complaints and was fined while working on a development in Jurong in 2013.

Since successfully applying for a $40,000 grant to buy an $80,000 noise control barrier, which has been installed at a River Valley construction site, it has received fewer than 10 complaints and has not breached the legal noise limits.

"It's almost impossible to meet the limits in residential areas, where our construction site is only 30m away from other buildings," said its manager, Mr Kent Ang. "The QCF complements productivity because work will not be stopped for noise violations and there will be no monetary loss through fines."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2016, with the headline 'Scheme for quieter equipment beefed up'. Print Edition | Subscribe